Call them the Comeback Kids, the Cardiac Kids or whatever you’d like, just don’t forget to call the Carroll County girls’ basketball team Southwest District champions. Coming back from five points down with a little over three minutes to play, the Lady Cavaliers rallied for a 52-45 win over Richlands on Saturday in the Southwest District Tournament championship game at Richlands.
“Some people are calling us (the Comeback Kids). We have come back on Richlands twice. We were down twice in big games against them,” Carroll County head coach Marc Motley said. “I think I would call us the Cardiac Kids. We just seem to want to keep everything close. Maybe they should call us the Give-the-Coach-a-Heart-Attack Kids.”
The two teams split during the regular season and ended up in a tie atop the Southwest District standings. Richlands (18-4) won Round 3 five days earlier in a playoff for the regular season title at Marion. In that game, the Blue Tornado outscored Carroll 13-4 in the fourth quarter to win by nine points. In Round 4, it was the Cavaliers that owned the final period, outscoring the Blues 16-7 in the fourth to rally for the seven-point victory.
“I don’t know that we did a whole lot of different. It was pretty normal for us. In the first half we couldn’t throw it in the ocean. We were missing open shots and layups,” Motley said. “We were getting the shots we wanted, we just couldn’t get it in the hole. I told them I didn’t want to change a thing. If we are not making open shots, just keep attacking and get to the foul line.”
And then, as Motley put it, Crysta Guynn went nuts, making 5-of-5 3-pointers and scoring all 19 of her points in the second half. Taylor Martin also drank a bit of the Krazy Kool-Aid, scoring 14 points and making 10-of-10 from the free-throw line, including 6-of-6 in the fourth quarter.
“That makes a big difference. We outscored them 16-7 in the fourth quarter. Earlier in the week they outscored us 13-4 in the fourth, and that was a complete turnaround,” Motley said. “Jessica Sheek made a field goal in the second half and we got a couple of points off free throws. Other than that, Crysta and Taylor scored all our points in the second half.”
Guynn’s third 3-pointer of the second half pulled the Cavs into a 30-all tie with 2:27 left in the third quarter. Richlands controlled the first half of the fourth quarter, however, using a 6-0 run to go ahead 44-39 with 3:23 to play. Martin followed with a pair of free throws and Sheek scored to make it a one-point game. Guynn’s fifth trey of the night put the Cavaliers in front 46-44 with 1:18 left. Carroll then made 6-of-8 from the foul line over the final 42 seconds to secure the win and the SWD Tournament title.
“The way we looked at it, we were down six at the half and we felt like we were playing pretty decent. We just weren’t able to score,” Motley said. “We felt like we were defending them well and getting the shots we wanted, we just weren’t making them. But we made them in the second half.”
Carroll County (15-9) enters the Region IV Tournament as the three seed as was scheduled to open regional action Feb. 19 at home against Magna Vista. With a win, the Cavaliers would move on to a Feb. 20 semifinal against Bassett at Magna Vista.
“We have played well the last three weeks, since our loss to Tazewell. Our only two losses since then were to Richlands, one on a buzzer beater, and one a playoff game,” Motley said. “We feel like we are peaking at the right time.”
Carroll Co. 10….8..18..16 - 52
Richlands12..12..14….7 - 45
Carroll County – Hash 1 2-2 5, Martin 2 10-10 14, Caldwell 2 4-4 8, Sellers 1 2-2 4, Guynn 6 2-3 19, Sheek 2 0-0 4. 3-pointers – Guynn 5, Hash 1.
Richlands – Davis 4 3-4 12, Richardson 1 3-6 5, Allen 6 5-9 20, Compton 0 3-6 3, Alley 2 0-1 4, Hearl 0 1-2 1. 3-pointers – Allen 3, Davis 1.
Carroll Co. 70, Abingdon 55
Putting together perhaps its best offensive performance of the season Thursday, Carroll County built a big lead and cruised to a 70-55 win over Abingdon in a Southwest District Tournament semifinal in Hillsville.
Scoring at will in transition and off the dribble, the Cavaliers shot 56.4 percent (22-of-39) in the first three quarters to take a commanding 57-32 lead heading into the final period. Carroll took the gas off the pedal in the fourth quarter before settling in for the 15-point victory.
“We played about as well as I have ever seen us play for about three quarters. They get out and put a lot of pressure on you, so they kind of take away some of the things you are trying to do offensively. You just have to kind of ad lib and make plays with the dribble and I thought Taylor did a tremendous job and Hayden Caldwell did a tremendous job making plays with the dribble against their pressure,” Motley said. “For three quarters we did a tremendous job with that. In the fourth quarter we played like we were up 25. We tried to cruise and it leaves a bad taste in your mouth when you leave because you don’t feel like you finished the game like you should have.”
Martin was the catalyst behind the offensive explosion as she finished with a double-double with 10 points and 10 assists. Caldwell had a huge game, scoring 16 points as she attacked the basket and scored on a variety of driving layups. Crysta Guynn drilled four 3-pointers and also finished with 16 points, while Jessica Sheek tossed in nine more for the Cavs.
“For three quarters we played as well as I’ve seen our offense play all year. Megan had four assists and Taylor had 10. We took care of the basketball, didn’t turn it over,” Motley said. “I thought Jessica Sheek played great.”
With leading scorer Michala Hash and leading rebounder Rachel Sellers in foul trouble most of the first half, other Cavaliers stepped up their games. With Carroll up 8-5 late in the first quarter, Guynn drilled 3-pointers on back-to-back possessions to increase the advantage to 14-7.
She drilled another trifecta with 20 seconds left in the first, and Caldwell added a driving layup as time ran down on the quarter to put the Cavs ahead 20-9 after eight minutes. Caldwell added six more points in the second quarter and Martin tossed in five in the frame to make it 36-20 at the half.
“You’ve got your leading scorer and leading rebounder sitting on the bench beside of you in foul trouble most of the first half and a couple of kids come off the bench and play really well,” Motley said. “Crysta and Jessica and really made an impact, and Hayden took up a lot of the slack scoring the basketball, too.”
Then the Cavs put the game to rest, lighting it up for 21 points on 64.2 percent shooting (9-of-14) in the third quarter. Sellers came back from foul trouble to score the first four points of the second half, making it a 40-20 Carroll lead. Sheek got into the act as well, pumping in back-to-back baskets to make it 44-21. Her high-arching jumpshot from the corner nearly drew rain, but found the net to increase the margin to 22 points late in the third. Guynn then canned her fourth 3-pointer of the night, giving the Cavaliers an insurmountable 57-32 advantage heading into the final quarter.
Abingdon 9..11..12..23 - 55
Carroll 20..16..21..13 - 70
Abingdon – Ma. Turner 2 6-9 11, Mo. Turner 0 5-6 5, Greear 2 3-4 9, Ta. Blevins 4 9-9 17, Toler 0 2-2 2, Billips 4 3-5 11. 3-pointers – Greear 2, Ma. Turner 1.
Carroll County - Alderman 0 1-2 1, Sheek 4 1-2 9, Hash 1 4-4 6, Caldwell 8 0-2 16, Martin 2 5-6 10, Haynes 1 3-4 5, Guynn 6 0-2 16, Sellers 3 0-0 6, Willard 0 1-2 1. 3-pointers – Guynn 4, Martin 1.